Valve firm's former finance director pleads guilty to bribery charge

A California-based valve company's former finance director pleaded guilty to a charge that he participated in a scheme to bribe numerous foreign government officials, the US Department of Justice said.

A former finance director of a California-based valve company pleaded guilty to a charge that he participated in a scheme to bribe numerous foreign government officials, the US Department of Justice said on Feb. 3.

Richard Morlok of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to pay officials from several countries' state-owned enterprises to secure contracts for the valve manufacturer, according to DOJ officials.

Morlok was finance director at the company, which DOJ did not identify, from 2002 through 2007, DOJ said. He was responsible for approving certain commission payments and signing off on wire transfers to the recipients of those commission payments.

In his guilty plea before US District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, Calif., Morlok admitted that from 2003 through 2006, he caused the valve company's employees and agents to pay approximately $628,000 to officials of state-owned companies in China, Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia and other countries. He also admitted that the company earned about $3.5 million in profits from contracts it obtained as a result of the corrupt payments, DOJ said.

It said that Morlok also admitted to providing false and misleading information to audits during a 2004 internal audit of the valve manufacturer's commission payments, and to providing false and misleading information to external auditors during a 2004 external audit.

DOJ said that Morlok has agreed to cooperate with the department in its ongoing investigation and faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced on July 20.

His guilty plea follows one by Mario Covino on Jan. 8 to conspiring to make corrupt payments totaling approximately $1 million to numerous foreign government officials as an agent for the same valve manufacturer. Covino, an Italian citizen and resident of Irvine, Calif., is also scheduled to be sentenced on July 20, DOJ said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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